This year our focus at CityLife Church is simply on following Jesus. We have been reflecting on Jesus’ call to come to him (Matt.11:28-30), to follow him (Luke 5:27-32), to believe him (John 20:19-31) and to abide in him (John 15). As we respond to his call, we begin to know Jesus better and we begin to love him. After all, he laid down his life for us. Over time, we also begin to hear Jesus’ call to obey.
The Call to Obedience
As people began to follow Jesus, he taught them about what life in his kingdom should look like. Jesus is the King and as his subjects and citizens in his kingdom, we are to take on his character and nature, which is that of love. Jesus taught and gave instructions that clearly showed what that life looks like in practical terms. A classic example of his teaching is the “sermon on the mount” as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt.5-7). At the end of that teaching, Jesus made it clear that he wanted his followers to not only hear his teaching but also to put it into practice – to obey. Only then would they building their lives upon the rock (Matt.7:21-27).
In the Great Commission Jesus instructed his followers to make disciples but this included “teaching them to OBEY everything I have commanded you (Matt.28:18-20).” Jesus considers those who hear his instructions and put them into practice as his true family (Luke 8:19-21).
The apostle John, often called the “apostle of love” and the disciple who was closest to Jesus, emphasized Jesus’ call to obedience more than any other New Testament writer. He quotes Jesus as saying, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15) and again, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching” (John 14:24). Jesus lived a life of hearing and doing the will of his Father. He told his disciples to do the same (see also John 13:15-17; 14:21-23; 15:9-11). John further emphasizes the importance of obedience to God’s commands in his letter to Christians (1 John 2:3-6; 3:21-24; 5:1-4).
This connection of love and obedience is a common theme throughout the Bible (Ex.20:6). In fact, the greatest evidence of our love for God is doing what pleases him. These two important things, love and obedience, cannot be separated. Jesus is someone to be loved and obeyed.
More tomorrow …